Daily Fenelon > Stop Striving

Stop Striving

You are good, but you want to be better. I think you are trying too hard to use your inner life to change those outward things about you that are socially unacceptable. Deep down you are not really changing. Let me tell you what happens when you don't let God deal with the deepest root of your old nature. You will become very critical, hard-hearted, and pharisaical. You will keep your actions in line according to some self-appointed rules, but deep within you will be unchanged. Outwardly you will appear to obey—but inwardly you will be in a state of rebellion. This is no place to be!

Pay more attention to your inward life. Take your deepest and strongest desires and put them in God's hands. Ask Him to conquer you completely. Give Him your natural arrogance, your worldly wisdom, your attachment to your house, and your fear that no one will recognize your "greatness." You also need to let God deal with your harsh attitude in dealing with things that don't go as you expect them to.

Your temper is not your biggest problem because you already distrust it. In spite of your attempt to control your temper, it still gets the better of you. This humiliation does you good. So worry about your more dangerous faults. I would really rather see you obviously impatient, and lacking a certain amount of self-control. This is more humiliating for you (and better for killing your pride!). When you are too perfect at controlling yourself you can become harsh, judgmental, and too easily offended by others.

Through your weakness learn compassion toward the faults of others. Sincere prayer will soften your heart and make you gentle, kind, and pliable in God's hands. Do you want God to be as critical of you as you are of others?

It is so easy to cling to your "good reputation." Look carefully within yourself. There is somewhere within you a limit which you will not go beyond in offering yourself to Him. You dance around your reservations and make believe that you do not see them. If you let yourself see all your reservations, then you will have to do something about them!

If God ever breaks through your defenses, you will be cut to the quick and left to find all sorts of excuses to justify yourself. The more you hide from giving something up, the more obvious it becomes that you should give it up. If you were truly free you would not spend so much time arguing about it!

Don't bargain with God to get out of this mess in the easiest, most comfortable way. Embrace the cross. Live by love alone. Let God do what He needs to do to root out your self-love. Pray within yourself all day long. Live in prayer—let it touch everything that you do. Be aware of God's presence with you—even when you are busy. Do this and peace will be yours.

You will not become perfect by hearing or reading about perfection. The important thing is not to listen to yourself, but silently listen to God. Talk little and do much, without caring to be seen. God will teach you more than any book or person can. Do you need to go to school to learn how to love God and deny yourself? You already know much more about good than you currently practice. What you need is to put into practice what you already know. Don't try to gain more knowledge before you practice what you already see.